Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Long overdue: clearing the air about the Anti-Superstition Ordinance (part 1)

I know it's not use, but I must add my voice in support of the Anti-Superstition Ordinance and more importantly, refute some of the lies being spread about the well-meaning move from the state government. I know I don't have a lot of readers, but I also know that the handful of people who do read my blog are intelligent people and there's just a chance they might help me spread the word. So first of all, here is the link to a copy of the Ordinance. Read it fully and carefully before you move to the next paragraph.

I mean it. Here's the link again, please read it in the name of all that's good and holy. And here's a Marathi copy. I won't mind if you don't return to this page, as long as there is at least one more person on earth who has read the actual contents of the ordinance.

Now here's the deal. If anyone, after reading the full contents, feels the law is unnecessary or skewed, they are welcome to post their views in the comments. Comments to this blog are moderated, but I promise to publish anything posted by anyone as long as they don't use unparliamentary language.

As it happens, a lot of right wing groups are opposed to the Bill on mostly fuzzy grounds. I'll mainly address the points raised by this article on Niti Central and content that keeps popping up on the delightful HJS website.

  1. This is an Anti-Superstition Ordinance, not Anti-Black Magic
The distinction is an important one, because if you call it Anti-Black Magic, it is implied that the State admits to the existence of such a thing as Black Magic. While you are entitled to your beliefs as much as I am entitled to my Harry Potter obsession, let us kindly acknowledge that the laws of the land take cognizance of scientific facts and not debatable beliefs. At least, I hope that is the case, and I'm not saying this hope isn't shaken every once in a while by actual evidence. But that's a different story.

More to the point, Black Magic according to the provisions of the proposed Bill comes under the umbrella of superstitions. I'm going to some length to explain this, because someone I really respect, (let's call him Sam) had raised an argument that a law against black magic is futile since you cannot pin down the source of black magic. So let me again explain how this works.

Let's say A has a dispute with B that cannot be settled amicably. So A goes to C, who claims to have some magical powers, for help. C charges some fee from A, performs some weirdass puja to set off a curse on B. As per Sam's belief, this puja may actually cause B to collapse of heart attack, and B's family would not be able to figure out the role played by A and C in causing the said ailment. By extension, nobody can arrest A or C since their crime cannot be proven.

In deference to Sam's belief system, I won't go into the science of it all, but let's just say that the new law does not concern itself with the causes of heart attack. What happens under this law instead, is that if C is caught with reasonable proof taking money from A and performing weirdass rituals, C is likely to be put in jail. A is likely to be unharmed. This won't change whether B has a heart attack or not, because no sane judge in Indian courts hopefully (yes, again hopefully) believes that weirdass rituals can actually cause heart attacks in people sleeping in their homes.

This also means that if one day B suddenly passes off in his sleep, his family won't be able to abuse the Anti-Superstition laws to somehow frame A for murder on charges of using black magic to settle score with B. The only people who need to worry the new laws are people like C who dupe people into thinking that their problems can somehow be fixed by giving a lot of money to C for performing weird mumbo-jumbo rituals.

Alas klar? Wunderbar.

(to be continued)

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